Defining your values is important
While business is, of course, about money, it’s about other things too. Business is also about your values and the vision you create for your company, both now, and in the future. Defining these values and vision – what your company stands for – is where a lot of the fun comes in!
For the first ten years at Bramble Berry, our mission (or vision) was to be the best at customer service in our industry. In everything we did, this is what we were striving for. Now, we’re updating that a bit as we continue to grow and build on our positive foundations. We want our new vision to move towards the idea of providing opportunities to change lives. We’re still working on the exact wording but the idea of providing women and men all over the world the opportunity to have a great part time or full time business using our supplies is powerful.
Initially, it took us nearly three years to decide which values we wanted for Bramble Berry. And going through this was not always an easy process. At one point, we had pages and pages of potential value statements. We even once had a value that said ‘profitability will never be our ultimate goal.’ But it turned out, that a value statement like that just wasn’t very practical (remember how we ran out of money? That’s easy to do when you say that you don’t care if you want to be profitable!). After much winnowing, discussions and trial periods, we were able to define the values for our company.
Today, Bramble Berry’s core values are as follows:
(1.) To be an industry leader
(2.) To stand behind our quality products
(3.) To show L.O.V.E. to our customers and employees (L.O.V.E. stands for: changing Lives (the L), creating Opportunities (the O), delivering high Value (the V), and encouraging creative Expression through the five senses (the E).
(4.) To be socially responsible
(5.) To recognize that profitability equals opportunity
These values are important because they stand as the benchmark against which we measure our actions. Every decision we make goes through these filters.
For example, when we’re thinking about whether or not to bring on a new line, we have to ask ourselves, “Does this line meet the standards outlined in our values?” If the line is a sub-par product, then our answer has to be “no”. Because of our core values, we have also decided not to carry Indian Sandalwood essential oil, despite its popularity. Sandalwood’s endangered species status doesn’t match up with how we’ve stated that we want to run the business. Every single decision we make as a company can be run through our values filter. Often times, I’ll look at a project that is labor and time intensive (like the painted Christmas soap ornaments) and say, “Yes, that will cost me a full weekend to design, make, photograph, write and upload but it’s in keeping with our value to be an industry leader and to show L.O.V.E. to our customers, so I’ll do it.” These are just a couple examples but I hope they help you see why it’s important to develop a set of core principles that lead you down the path of business success that you can be proud of.
Choosing values for your own company can be lots of fun. You start by asking yourself, “What do I stand for?”
- Maybe you stand for 150% customer satisfaction.
- Maybe you stand for providing living wage jobs in your community.
- Maybe you stand for fast product delivery 24/7.
- Maybe you stand for protecting the environment.
- Maybe you stand for supporting women business partners in your community.
The reason I say this is a fun part of the business growing process is that you can stand for anything you want! Be as creative as you’d like! Eventually, you choose 4-5 values that are most important to you, and then integrate them into your business practices. Developing core values can help guide you through the many business decisions that will come your way and they will help to ensure that you’re building a company you can be proud of.
Your homework today is to come up with a brainstorming list of to start your journey towards a vision statement that fits you and your business (Why are you here? What do you want to do that is different? What impact do you want to have on your local or global world?). I want you to also brainstorm a list of potential value statements. Just three or four pages of chicken scratchings, scribblings and a stream-of-consciousness thought is all you need to come up with. You don’t need to put them in order, rank them or anything. Simply sit in a quiet place and spend 30 minutes listing out anything and everything that comes to mind.
Next up: We’ll look at how you can inspire others through your vision and values.
Looking for another part in the “Kickstart Your Business” series?
Part 1 – Defining Your Business
Part 5 – Using Your Vision To Inspire
Part 7 – Put Your Goals To Action
Part 8 – Surround Yourself Well
Part 9 – Endless Possibilities
Great info about values! I also found it comforting that it took Bramble Berry 3 years to come up with these. The Indian Sandalwood decision is so understandable. I have tormented over this one, always wanting to use EOs when possible. I also decided to use the FO after looking at how the oil is produced and obtained. I do use the Sensuous Sandalwood from Bramble Berry. I have had no complaints about using FO instead of EO.
Thanks for this great series. It has really helped motivate and direct me. I appreciate it! You are achieving one of your goals!
Wow, great post, Anne-Marie! I am fortunate to have a job where my values have a daily impact on my work, and I am trying to figure out how this will translate to my tiny business. When I was looking at opening a business five years ago, one of the major expenses would have been staff…so the natural way to reduce that cost would have been to offer very low wages, no benefits, no sick days, etc., all of which would have gone against what I believe. So I let it go and moved on to the job I have now (and love!)
Love this series! Can’t wait for the next installment!
Boy,KatwOman, that was like taking my concerns and stating them way more eloquently than I could have. I’m glad to see that someone else feels the same as I do. It all feels overwhelming sometimes. I’m the one who is responsible for everything except some financial help from hubby…
Sage advice, Anne Marie!
that concludes my counsel of many. even my 11 year old daughter said, “stick to one thing, mama or you’ll drive yourself crazy!”
thank you for your valuable input!
Nahia, Determining a set of values that will stand the test of time does take serious thought and effort. And sometimes, what seems like a good idea (“profit will never be a motivator”) proves to be silly in hindsight.
Brigette, Thanks! I’m glad that you like our core values. I feel like they’re a good representation of what we try to do every day.
katwOman, I’m glad you got a chance to catch up and yes, the weather around here is NUTS. The freeway is closed for almost 40 miles – I have no idea how our truckers are going to make it through with our orders since it’s the main freeway – but I’m just thankful that everyone I know and love is safe right now.
As for your questions:
* you don’t say you have more value than your competitors. You figure out your niche and work on “owning” that niche. Let them own another niche.
* you don’t know that your target will perceive your value and they might not, for a while. That’s why it’s important to have a well thought out plan and stick to it through thick and thin.
* only you can answer the question about sacrificing vision and value for short term financial gain. Just remember that you have to work on and in your business for years to come. You need to design something you’ll be happy with.
* My opinion is that two lines is probably ambitious for a start up. BB started with 15 items – all melt and pour – then branched in CP – then branched into lotions – then branched into other bases etc… Do one. Do it well. And then, you can branch out and grow when there’s profits and more resources to do it.
I just read the post, and it is a fun part but nonetheless intensive. the hard part is all the financial stuff – you know, the things that make your brain hurt. the other hurdle I am facing right now is back a few days…the one about value. i have a vision for that value, but the insecurity to put that part on paper. how can i say that i have more value than my competitors who are already successful…very successful? and, then i am struggling to come up with the design that i envision that will set me apart from the rest…all that i can see is more money. and, after i invest in that money, how do i know my target will perceive that value? in my “niche”, the country look is hot hot hot. but that is not the image of what i envision to bring to market.
do i sacrifice my vision to make money or do i remain faithful to my vision and endure the long road ahead to bring it to fruition?
or, do i create two separate lines; one common and likeable, and one that, down the road, when i become more solvent, i can invest in and bring to a high end market?
this is where i am like a deer in the headlights, as it were. i have a vision and don’t know if door number 2 will help me eventually enter door number one…..
ok, that was alot. but i KNOW there are those of our readers who have grappled with the same issues…..
I hope you don’t have to drive very much today! I saw that
18 wheeler fall over this morning on GMA….
wow, Washington is getting it all!
Wind, rain, snow…..
I guess it’s a good time to be a
brain stormin! cause you can’t really go outside!
I am still busy trying to get caught up and am furiously writing!
It hurts so good!
Everything inside me just wants to go “play” and make stuff and it is hard to have the self control to make and stick to the plan!
I love the Values. I’m a long time subscriber to the old scentiment~
There’s no excuse for rudeness, anyone can be ignorant, or uneducated, but no one has to be rude~!
DH and I’ve always subscribed to the old codes of ethics and honesty an hope to teach our kids the same values. Don’t we wish many more businesses subscribed to the same policy~!? Wonderful blog post once again~
I already have on my list to work on mission statement. This homework assignment will definitely be directly related. I like the idea of a values filter in every decision you make…it’s creates much impact. And like Shelley said, that this portion takes time to evolve. Thanks!
What a post. I am very impressed by your core values. My favorite is Expression through the 5 senses. This is not something that I have officially worked on since I opened my business but I have found that in doing business and trying to stay on task and focused in the direction that I want to go that I unknowingly developed some values for my company. This assignment today will help me to make them “official” as well expand on them and commit to them. Thank you!
Great post on values! It is refreshing to understand Brambleberry’s process through the years and to know that it ultimately took you three years initially. Looking forward to working on this with my biz partner this weekend!